The latest findings from an ongoing government survey show the highest level of opposition to shale gas exploitation so far.
The gap between support and opposition is the largest recorded in the survey and the proportion of participants who are undecided is at its lowest level.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Public Attitudes Tracker (Wave 15), released today, found opposition to fracking stood at 31%, an increase from 28% in the previous survey carried out in June. Support for shale gas stood at 23%, up from 21% in the June survey.
People who said they neither supported nor opposed made up 43%, down from 46% in June. People who said they didn’t know stood at 3%, down from 5% in June.
The latest findings are based on questionnaires with more than 2,000 households in September. It was the eighth time participants were asked for their views on exploiting shale gas.
When the question was first asked in December 2013, support stood at 28% and opposition at 21%. The proportion of people who neither supported nor opposed was 48% and people who said they didn’t know was 4%.
Since then, support has gradually fallen and opposition risen. In December 2013, the gap between support and opposition was +7% in favour of shale gas exploitation. From June to December 2014, support and opposition were about equal. Then the gap changed in favour of opposition, increasing to 8% in the latest survey.
The findings confirmed a previously reported trend that women were more likely to oppose shale gas than men and older people were more likely to support it. DECC said:
“Support for fracking differs by gender, with men (30%) more likely than women (17%) to support it. Older people also tend to support fracking the most, with 30% of over 65s saying they support it.”
“Opposition to fracking is highest amongst those aged 45-54 (38%) and 55-64 (40%), whilst people in rural areas are also slightly more likely to be opposed (33%).”
Awareness of shale gas exploitation has remained fairly stable over the past 18 months. In the latest survey, 56% said they knew a lot or a little about shale. This compares with 52% in December 2013. The proportion who said they had never heard of it has fallen from 30% in December 2013 to 23% in the most recent survey.
“Awareness of fracking was higher for over 45s (87%), social grade AB (88%), males (84%), and people in rural areas (81%).”
- A representative sample of 2,121 households in the UK were interviewed face-to-face at home from 23rd-27th September 2015.